Stimulus money will go towards Rogue River dam removal
One Rogue River dam – Gold Hill – is gone. Another called Savage Rapids is on its way out. Now federal stimulus money will be spent to speed the removal of a third, Gold Ray Dam.
Decommissioning the dam is one project that will share in $167 million of recovery fund spending announced today by the Department of Commerce and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The project was among the 50 selected from over 800 water and fish-related projects that applied for funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
“NOAA is investing in green jobs for Americans to restore habitat for valuable fish and wildlife and strengthen coastal communities, making them more resilient to storms, sea-level rise and other effects of climate change,” former Oregon State University professor and NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco said.
Lubchenco and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said $5 million from the act would go toward removing the 38-foot high Gold Ray Dam on the southern Oregon river near Grants Pass.
The defunct power-producing dam is currently owned by Jackson County, which is already in the process of studying its removal. Once that dam comes out, probably in 2010, the Rogue River will run unimpeded for 153 miles for the first time in over a century.
“River restoration projects of this magnitude are not only good for the economy over the short term because of the jobs they provide, but will also provide economic benefits into the future because of improvements to the fishery and recreational opportunities,” said John DeVoe, executive director of the conservation group WaterWatch, which has worked for dam removal.
Also in Oregon, $1.6 million will go towards habitat improvements along the Willamette River near Eugene and $699,000 will be spent putting unemployed crab fisherman to work removing derelict Dungeness crab pots and other fishing gear.